By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY November 29, 2005 The storys the same countywide.
Town budgets are going up, and so are the taxes.
Ask any supervisor in the county why, and youll get the same answer.
Most of it comes really to everything related to fuel, said Cochecton Supervisor Sal Indelicato.
The cost of running the highway departments in all 15 towns is rising from the huge chunk of change it takes to fill the sanders with diesel to the skyrocketing health insurance.
Heres a rundown of what 2006 will look like across the county:
Town of Bethel
A 7.74 percent increase will show up on tax bills in Bethel this year whittled down from a proposed 16 percent increase at the start of the budget planning season.
The fuel hurt, said Supervisor Vicky Simpson.
So did the insurance costs, up 12.4 percent for property and liability.
Salaries went up 3 percent for everyone except the supervisor and the highway superintendent, and retirement costs increased as well.
But Simpson said its a fact of life.
Nobody likes to have a tax increase, but the town board worked diligently to cut that down, she said of the initial 16 percent increase.
The final budget figure? The town expects to raise $3.77 million by taxes.
Town of Callicoon
A new highway barn under construction on Wahl Road and, of course, the price of fuel hit the Town of Callicoon hard this year.
Taxes are going up 8.36 percent in a $1.4 million budget.
We pretty much cut everything we can, said Supervisor Gregg Semenetz.
Town bookkeeper Joe Anne Baker said the highway department saw its fuel costs jump from $23,000 to $96,000.
The town will also start paying off its highway barn bond this year to the tune of $74,000.
Town of Cochecton
By watching our spending, Town of Cochecton Supervisor Sal Indelicato said there will only be a 1.73 percent increase in the towns taxes in 2006.
Although costs are up across the board, the town used some of its fund balance toward the budget this year to cut down the impact to taxpayers.
We dont have any debt in our town, that kind of helps, Indelicato said. We had a little increase in assessed valuations thats helped it.
Town of Delaware
The Town of Delaware hopes to raise $1.2 million by taxes in 2006 up 5.4 percent from 2005.
The largest increases were in the highway budget including salt, sand, fuel and benefits.
Its bare bones, said Bookeeper Lillian Bauernfeind. Theres no place I can cut.
Town of Fallsburg
The taxes are going up 8 1/2 percent in the Town of Fallsburg in 2006 with the major increases being realized in the highway department.
A mixture of increased fuel costs, higher costs for sand and salt and benefit increases will all push the amount to be raised by taxes to $7.8 million in Fallsburg this year.
Town of Forestburgh
The budget went down in the Town of Forestburgh this year even with the cost of medical insurance and fuel rising, the amount to be raised by taxes actually dropped $400,000.
But the town is facing hard times, like others in the county a court settlement that favored the Mirant energy company means Forestburgh taxpayers will be footing the bill to pay back the corporation for an overassessment.
Town of Fremont
Theres good news for residents of the Town of Fremont expenses are up, but so are the revenues.
The cost of running the highway department from fuel oil to health insurance has risen, pushing expenses up $48,000.
But property assessments have gone up too over $1 million. And the amount to be raised by taxes has actually dropped by about $5,000.
Were in pretty good shape this year, said Supervisor Jim Greier.
Town of Highland
An 8.55 percent tax increase will greet Highland residents in 2006 a figure that was brought down from an initial proposal would have resulted in a more than 20 percent raise in taxes.
Although much of the wish list was cut to bring the number down, the fuel and healthcare costs could not be reduced.
Town of Liberty
Residents of the Town of Liberty will have about a 4 percent increase on their tax bills in 2006 depending on where they live.
The number is slightly higher for folks who live in the Village of Liberty, slightly lower for those outside the village bounds.
Health insurance went up $80,000 in the central Sullivan County town a major factor in the budget increase.
Town of Lumberland
The .07 percent increase in taxes in Lumberland is due to high costs in heating and fuel oil, and those high costs have also affected the current impact of the highway building being constructed, said Supervisor John LiGreci.
Salt and sand prices are up, and the town had recently transferred $100,000 in extra funds to the highway department to offset the increase in fuel prices."
Town of Neversink
An approximately 3 percent increase in the budget in Neversink is pretty much due to highway costs, said Supervisor Georgianna Lepke.
We dont know what fuel oil is going to be, she said. Its the unknown.
Town of Mamakating
The budget approved earlier this month by the Town of Mamakating board will raise taxes about 2 percent.
That figure equals out to approximately $10.20 per $120,000 of assessed property value, according to Supervisor Charles Penna.
Town of Rockland
The Town of Rockland budget for 2006 will be $3.7 million this year with a 5.32 percent increase in taxes.
For every $1,000 of assessed value, thats about $5.35, said Supervisor Pat Pomeroy.
Included in that were the requisite increases in fuel, plus a 3 percent raise across the board for employees.
A 12 percent hike in health insurance costs is expected, Pomeroy said. Thats after the town budgeted for a more than 7 percent raise in the benefits just last year.
Its a substantial amount for a small town like us, she said.
Otherwise, the budget is similar to the one passed last year.
We had nothing extravagant, Pomeroy said.
Town of Thompson
A 4.5 percent increase in the Town of Thompson budget is due mostly to fuel and health insurance benefits, said Brenda Galligan, the towns comptroller.
This year, the amount to be raised by taxes is $6.5 million.
Town of Tusten
A 6 percent increase will be realized in the Town of Tusten tax bills in 2006.
Democrat reporters Susan Monteleone and Nathan Mayberg contributed to this report.